2008-09 Marquette Men's Tennis Season Preview

Sept. 5, 2008

Milwaukee - The latest edition of the Marquette men's tennis team features the most experienced roster under sixth-year head coach Steve Rodecap.

While the Golden Eagles return a total of six letterwinners from 2007-08, only two of those players (Trent Hagan and Stephen Shao) are seniors.

"Five of the six returning players have at least two years of college experience, which is crucial in winning close matches," Rodecap said. "They have all made significant improvements individually and have shown that as a team they are prepared to make a big step."

Despite the lack of upperclassmen, MU's returnees have combined for well over 200 victories in both singles and doubles.

"It is a close group of players whose team chemistry is excellent," Rodecap said. "That chemistry will help us get through a very tough schedule and allow the newcomers to transition easier into their roles."

Rodecap has the luxury of an established top half of the singles lineup as each of the top three positions return in 2008-09. Hagan played 18 matches at the top spot and Dusan Medan was featured at the No. 2 position almost exclusively. Shao picked up 10 wins at No. 3 singles after being slowed in the fall with an injury.

A native of Alpharetta, Ga., Hagan has played No. 1 singles each of his three seasons with the Golden Eagles. He owns 47 career singles victories, including a team-best 10 at the top spot in 2007-08.

"His (Trent's) experience playing high in the lineup for the last three seasons has prepared him to have the best season of his career," Rodecap said.

Medan made an immediate impact in his first season with MU after transferring from Troy. He topped the roster with 30 singles victories and settled into the No. 2 spot early in the dual match campaign.

 

 

"Dusan rarely has a bad day in practice and in competitive situations, which really makes him tough to match up against," Rodecap explained. "I believe he is ready to take on a larger leadership role in his second season with this team."

Shao has reached double figures in singles and doubles victories each of his three seasons at MU. He currently owns 103 combined wins and has been a consistent performer in the middle of the team's lineup.

"Stephen has gained more confidence throughout his career and is becoming a much better competitor, which should lead to his best results," Rodecap said. "I am hopeful he can separate himself from the pack this year."

Although Mark Rutherford enjoyed a good amount of success in doubles play in 2007-08, he posted an overall record of 31-11, his singles contributions were equally important. The Calgary, Alberta, native accounted for a total of 10 dual match singles decisions, including an 8-4 mark at No. 5.

"Mark is a comforting player to coach because you always know what to expect when he plays," Rodecap said. "He is a very consistent competitor and typically rises to the occasions in big situations."

Niko Boulieris has quietly put together a very solid two seasons at Marquette. He already owns 87 total victories and has posted 20-or-more wins in both singles and doubles play each of his two campaigns.

"I think Niko is ready to compete for an upper lineup position," Rodecap said. "He will have a big impact on our incoming players with his leadership qualities and work ethic, as well as his dedication."

Juan-Martin Paredes joined the team just in time for the dual match portion of the schedule in 2007-08 and saw limited singles action. He posted an overall record of 5-2, including a 4-0 mark at No. 5.

"This will be his second semester on campus and I never felt he played his best tennis last spring," Rodecap said. "He will play a pivotal role in our team's success this year."

Marquette's recruiting efforts add a trio of freshmen to the mix in 2008-09 and each is expected to compete for time in the lineup.

John (J.T.) Christian owns a Kansas state championship at the prep level and posted an overall record of 75-11 during his tenure at Olathe Northwest High School.

"J.T. is a very committed athlete who will grow into a very good player as we get him more experience," Rodecap said. "His passion for the game really stood out to me in the recruiting process."

Drake Kakar has been a nationally ranked player in singles and doubles during his career. He has also had a good amount of success at the prep level.

"Drake probably has the most experience of the three incoming freshmen," Rodecap said. "He is a big team guy and will play his best tennis when he is competing for the team."

In-state product Jonathan Schwerin arrives from Madison East High School, where he took over the No. 1 spot in the lineup as a freshman at the prep level.

"With Jonathan's size (6-6), I expect him to have an immediate impact in how we play doubles," Rodecap said. "He is limited in experience, but has a really big upside and I expect him to have a great career at Marquette."

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